Bas-relief cartouche with an allegory of the Catholic Church
A bas-relief cartouche with an allegory of the Catholic Church from the tombstone of Cardinal Friedrich Hessen von Darmstadt, located in the Chapel of Saint Elisabeth. In the background of the relief is the motto of the deceased: „pro deo et ecclesia” (For God and the Church).
The tombstone of the chapel’s founder is a high-class Baroque work. It was carved in the workshop of Giovanni Bernini and modelled on the papal monuments of Urban VIII and Alexander VII. It is executed in white and grey-grey marble. The tomb is decorated with putti with attributes of the founder’s clerical dignity, with a skull in the centre as a symbol of death.
Above the tomb is a shield with a sword and a pastoral shield, signifying the Cardinal’s spiritual and secular powers as Prince-Bishop of Wrocław and Imperial Governor of Silesia. In a kneeling position, Cardinal Frederick of Hesse is dressed in the cardinal’s choir robe, a sign of high ecclesiastical dignity and jurisdiction.
In contrast, the symbol of the bishop’s attachment to the diocese he governs is, clearly visible, the bishop’s ring. The two figures on the sides represent : on the left an allegory of Truth, shown as a woman with a mirror, on the right of Eternity, adorned with a laurel wreath. The work is completed by the Allegory of Truth trampling the allegory of Lying, and the Allegory of Eternity, pensive and uncertain, holding a sheaf of ripe corn and a snake eating its own tail.